Gears & Gadgets

Latest Windows Insider build makes a major upgrade to, uh… Notepad

Image of a spiral notebook.

There’s a new Windows Insider build out today, and the biggest changes appear to be none other than Notepad, Windows’ venerable barebones text editor.

Notepad already received a significant update in the recent October 2018 Update: Microsoft added support for files with Unix-style line endings. But the work hasn’t stopped there. Oh no.

The new and improved Notepad now has better Unicode support, defaulting to saving files as UTF-8 without a Byte Order Mark; this is the standard way of encoding UTF-8 data, as it maximizes compatibility with software expecting ASCII text. The status bar will now show the encoding being used, too.

Notepad is also going to support a convention that’s literally decades old: when the currently loaded file has been modified, an asterisk will be shown in the title bar.

And on top of all that, there are some new keyboard shortcuts: Ctrl-Shift-N to open a new Notepad window from within Notepad, Ctrl-Shift-S to Save As…, and Ctrl-W to close the current window. At this rate, can some kind of tabbed Notepad be far behind? And perhaps more usefully, Notepad has been updated to work with paths longer than 260 characters.

The reason for Notepad’s rudimentary features over the years is because the application was, by design, little more than a very thin wrapper around a Windows multiline text-editing control. The Unix line-ending support, for example, came to Notepad because Microsoft updated the text edit control to support Unix line endings. Apparently spurred on by the success of that change, Microsoft appears to have started treating Notepad as an application in its own right, adding sensible—if minor—new features to the editor to make it ever-so-slightly more useful.

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Tech – Ars Technica

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